I am no fan of ad hominem attacks, especially when it’s the President and his administration that deserve true criticism for their policies. So, when I read the articles labeling the First Lady as a hypocrite for indulging in a high-fat fast food meal, I was reluctant to join in on the rancor. Yet, as the head of a federally funded task force, Michelle Obama is, for all intents and purposes, part of an administration that has waged a veritable war on consumers’ ability to choose the foods they want to consume.
As an outspoken advocate for a healthy eating and warrior-queen in the fight against childhood obesity, many were surprised by reports that Michelle Obama had been “caught” chowing down on a 1700 calorie lunch at Shake Shack in DC, consisting of a burger, fries, and a chocolate shake. Many called her a hypocrite.
She is not a hypocrite, at least not for this. Mrs. Obama has repeatedly stated that maintaining healthy diet doesn’t mean one must never indulge in cookies, fries, or burgers. That her lunch at a burger shack is newsworthy leads me to believe that she isn’t regularly ingesting massive quantities of fast food—so she’s not a hypocrite. She is, however, a dilettante and an elitist who, like so many other lifestyle moralists, doesn’t think or care about the effects that the policies they advocate will have on people who are not part of the middle or upper classes.
In 2010, President Obama signed a presidential memorandum, creating the federal Task Force on Childhood Obesity, and Michelle Obama’s now well-known Let’s Move Campaign, which receives $1 billion a year in federal funds.
While the Obamas are happy to throw around the 27 percent of Americans are obese, they are less vocal about the rates of hunger and poverty in the nation. According to polls from 2010, 14.7 percent of Americans lived in food insecurity and fear of starvation, while 43.6 million Americans were living in poverty.
While the policies advocated by Michelle Obama and others in the administration won’t affect her ability to maintain a balanced diet with the occasional trip to the Shake Shack, the new nutritional-requirement burdens and proposed taxes on “junk food” to discourage consumption, result in increased food prices that will hurt the most vulnerable Americans. For example, as the Daily Caller reported, the push on Wal-Mart to sell only those foods that meet the feds’ standard of nutrition will result in companies reformulating products because they can’t afford to not sell to Wal-Mart. The increased cost to manufacture these reformulated foods will be passed along to Wal-Mart and then onto consumers who will pay higher prices on all foods, not just junk foods.
In addition, as CEI recently wrote regarding the FTC’s proposed ban on junk food advertising to children, the requirements, apart from being an overreach of government authority, will not even solve the problem they seek to address. Adolescents get only 17 percent of their nutrition from fast food restaurants. Therefore, the vast majority of their food is consumed under adult supervision (in the home or at school). The root of the problem isn’t advertising; it’s education availability and supervision. Parents have abdicated their responsibility to teach proper nutrition to their children (perhaps a response to the ever increasing presence of the nanny state) and in many parts of the country parents simply can’t afford to buy diet heavy in fresh foods. The solution is not more government restrictions, taxes, or guidelines — the answer is cheaper food and more personal responsibility, which we’ll only get when government gets out of our pantries and out of way.
Mrs. Obama can chew on that thought during her next trip to the Shake Shack.